On Tuesday, February 19, 2013, Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested 50-year-old Carroll Gardner, 129 7th Street Winter Haven, charging him with the Sexual Battery of a 3-year-old boy. The battery took place at “Kat Gardner’s 24/7 Home Daycare,” operated by Gardner’s wife at the couple’s shared residence.
“The importance of DNA evidence in this case cannot be over stated. We had good statements from the victim and the victim’s mother, but the ability to collect potential DNA evidence and the subsequent match gave us the key we needed to arrest this predator. The child’s mother did absolutely the right thing by effectively communicating with her son and contacting the Sheriff’s Office.” – Sheriff Grady Judd
The Department of Children and Families was contacted about the incident. Mrs. Gardner told investigators she had planned to close the business prior to the incident and subsequently surrendered her license. The business was closed on August 21, 2012.
The Sexual Battery occurred Friday, August 17, 2012. Through the investigation, detectives learned the victim’s mother arrived at the day care to pick up her two young children during the afternoon of August 17th. While driving home, the mother asked her young son how his day had gone. It was at that time the child told his mother that Mr. Gardner “licked” his penis.
The mother did not ask any additional questions until she arrived home and gave her son a teddy bear and asked the child to show her what happened. The mother told detectives the child took the teddy bear and rubbed its face against his groin.
The child was transported to a local hospital where a sexual assault kit was completed, and DNA evidence was collected from his groin area and was forwarded to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
On December 28, 2012, lab results indicated DNA foreign to the victim was found during the exam. A warrant was obtained to collect DNA from Gardner on January 14, 2013.
On Tuesday, February 19, 2013, results indicated the DNA collected from Gardner matched the foreign DNA collected from the victim.
Gardner was booked into the Polk County Jail and is being held on no bond.